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When I leave, will they split up?


© St. Petersburg Times,
published July 2, 2001

I hear my parents argue all the time now. In the past year or so, it seems things have gotten louder between the two of them. I never wondered if their marriage was in trouble. I always thought they would be together forever. I would listen to other people talk about the problems they dealt with in their homes, and I was always so thankful I never had to worry about that, until now.

I am going away to college this year, and I don't feel very secure that my home will ever be the same again. When I first pondered moving away to go to school, I was elated. I felt a new sense of freedom, and I was excited. I had some fear, but it was manageable. This is my senior year; I thought all the focus was supposed to be on me, but I am questioning that now.

My parents have been helpful in my college adventure, but there seems to be something missing. Every time we talk about school, I have this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach that keeps telling me there is trouble ahead. I am afraid to ask them any questions about their relationship, because I am not sure I want to know the answers. Beyond that fear, I also feel somewhat angry they are not as focused on my senior year as I had wanted them to be. I feel a bit selfish, but you'd think they could get out of themselves enough to give me the attention that is due me this year.

What I had expected this year was my parents attending the events I was in at school and being there for me as I lived my final year at home. I thought we'd make plans for a family vacation during spring break. I was sure we'd get together with our family and celebrate my graduation with a party.

I was looking forward to meeting my roommate and discussing the things we would need for living together at college. Over the summer, I thought we would take a GREAT family vacation and then we'd be on our way to getting me into my new dorm at college. So far, we have done very few of these things, and none of them as a family. What is happening to my family?

Will they split up after I leave for school? Have they just stayed together all these years for me? Have they been eagerly waiting for this day so they could get away from each other? Have they been pretending all these years to love each other? If they have been so unhappy, why didn't I know it? Have I been in my own little world all these years? When did their marriage start to fall apart? Do they hate each other? Will they tell me if they decide to split up? Will they get a divorce, or will they just live separately?

I don't know. I need answers. Some of the excitement I started my senior year with is turning to fear. I thought this transition time was just about me. I knew my parents would miss me, but I always thought they would have each other. Now I am not sure of anything.

I was concerned about losing my room when I left. That seems insignificant at this point. When I come home over Thanksgiving, will I still have a home? Will I need to arrange visits with each of my parents individually? How can I leave home with the excitement I had expected? This is more than not fair. This is painfully frightening.

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IT! (Private thoughts of the Indomitable Teen) is written by Cecilia Tucker, a licensed marriage and family therapist at the Counseling Center for New Direction in Seminole. Tucker, who has been in counseling practice since 1979, writes this column under the guidance of a panel of teenage advisers, who approve the topics and offer their insights (in exchange for pizza). You may write her c/o: IT!, X-Press, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or e-mail floridian@sptimes.com.

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